British Pilots are threatening to strike over implementation plans for an ID card system in the UK:

The Home Office insists the scheme will help airport workers improve security and streamline pass applications when staff move jobs. Ministers will publish draft regulations on Friday to set up a trial requiring airside staff at Manchester airport and London City airport to sign up for an ID card before they can get security passes allowing them to work there. If the regulations are approved, the first ID cards will be issued at the two airports from autumn next year as part of an 18-month trial.

I haven’t really followed this story much. There seem to be lots of plans floating about in various places (the U.S. as well) to beef up identification requirements. That weird American streak in me can’t shake the idea that there’s something Big Brother about having to carry ID (this is the part of me that was really shaken when 2 Spanish police officers randomly stopped me and asked for identification – just feels fascist).

So i went looking for more info and found some debunking at a site I used to use a lot at Mobuzz and had kind of forgotten about – The Register where they were picking apart BBC coverage of the issue:

On the 6th of November the BBC announced to an astonished world that “People ‘can’t wait for ID cards’. Breathlessly repeating the words of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s speech that morning, Auntie reported: “I believe there is a demand, now, for cards – and as I go round the country I regularly have people coming up to me and saying they don’t want to wait that long.”

And added that the market for fingerprints, photographs and signatures* garnered in post offices and retailers would amount, according to Smith, to “about £200 million a year.” The Beeb neglected to mention that the £200 million a year represented a laundered price hike of up to £40 a throw, but there are a few other things the Beeb neglected to mention – or more properly, stopped mentioning – that day, too.

The Telegraph has more on the financial blunders of the scheme:

Under the terms of a £5 billion contract signed by the Home Office, Thales will be entitled to claim for its lost profits if ministers call off the ID cards scheme with less than a year’s notice. If the company is given between a year and 18 months’ notice, it will be entitled to have its costs met.

More criticism from the Times:

Ministers have been accused of trying to introduce compulsory identity cards through the back door, despite promises that people will not have to carry them.

Lawyers at Liberty, the civil liberties group, say that little noticed clauses in the draft immigration and citizenship bill introduce new powers to make people produce identity documents or face arrest. The bill is expected to be in the Queen’s speech next month.

At issue is a clause in the bill which says that anyone who is to be examined by an immigration officer “must produce a valid identity document if required to do so”. Failure to produce an identity card or otherwise prove identity will become a criminal offence. At present, producing a passport counts as proof of identity.

It had been thought the clauses applied only to people entering the UK at ports.

But Liberty says a separate clause in the bill extends powers of examination to new categories of people. They include anyone in the UK — whether a British citizen or not — who has ever left the country.